The rocket launches were a culminating Starbase activity. Page fifth-grade students usually attend Starbase in Battle Creek. There, instructors provide hands-on learning activities in science, math and technology. With COVID restrictions in place all year, students couldn’t travel to Battle Creek, so Starbase teachers brought the lessons to schools.
One-by-one, students fitted their rocket on the launch pad while Bruce Medaugh and Darrick Gregory with Starbase pumped air into the rockets. After a countdown by the entire class, students gentled pulled a string to release the trigger on the rockets and send them hurling 150 to 175 feet in the air.
After the launches, Medaugh reminded students of exactly what happened. “Does anyone know about Newton’s laws?” he asked.
He said the experiment demonstrated two of Newton’s laws. Newton’s first law: An object in motion will stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by another force. “The rocket was at rest on the launch pad. When it was launched it was in motion and stayed in motion until gravity took over and brought it back to the ground,” said Medaugh.
The third law of motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. “The action was the pressure on the rocket and the reaction was the rocket launching,” said Medaugh. “There is an action and a reaction.”
Congress in 1993 officially signed legislation making Starbase a federally-funded Department of Defense program. Starbase Battle Creek currently serves about 1,500 students from 13 area school districts.